I haven’t really checked in on a weekly basis, because somehow this August became BUSY. The fact that the month is almost over is surprising and upsetting. I finally thought I’d have a chance this week to get some posts I’ve been working on churned out, but this really might just be it.
I spent some time in New England two weekends ago, specifically in North Conway, New Hampshire, to hike the Presidential Traverse. North Conway was a really cool little town. The White Mountains are gorgeous. The Presidential Traverse kicked our asses in ways we did not expect, nor appreciate, but all those are posts for another day.
We were staying in North Conway from Saturday to Tuesday. The plan was to drive up early Saturday, stop in Portsmouth, a city I’ve been wanting to check out for a while, for the sole purpose of getting a lobster roll, and then make our way to New Hampshire. On Tuesday we were planning on stopping by Kennebunkport, Maine, to have another. And by “a” lobster roll, I mean “some” lobster rolls, because my goal was at least two per stop, with a minimum of four consumed.
Readers, I failed. I consumed but two. However, one of these, was unlike any lobster roll I’ve ever had. I don’t know if I can crown it the best, but it was up there.
Connecticut and New Jersey or more or less the same state? Just like, literal traffic jams the whole time you’re in them. And McMansions. Jersey just has Tom Hardy, while Connecticut has Nantucket Reds, but we can all agree they’re more or less the same, no? This is a fancy way of saying that I sat in standstill traffic on the CT/MA border for close to two hours on my ride up. My brother, who was in a separate car, had texted me to say he was already in Porstmouth. My GPS said it would take my at least an hour and forty minutes more, and that wasn’t taking into account that 95 is also a traffic hellhole, so I abandoned Portsmouth, and headed to Conway via rural MA/NH backroads, and gave up on my lobster roll dreams. Or so I thought. I ended up pulling over at a Burger King to get lunch. I used the restroom, and upon walking out, gazed out the window, and across the parking lot, sat The Beach Plum. Was it in a strip mall? Yes. Was I able to smell the ocean? No. Were there seagulls in the trash? Yes. Did I manage to take a picture of said lobster roll? Absolutely not. I was sitting in traffic all during lunch. I was starving! The Beach Plum’s lobster roll was perfectly fine, and served with the requisite potato chips, so while it may not have been two by the sea, I was satiated for the time being.
On Tuesday we set off towards Kennebunkport early. I tried to stop at the famed Clam Shack here two years ago, but was also thwarted by traffic. Apparently they are mavericks because instead of a some sort of hot-dog style roll, they use a traditional hamburg-style bun. Anyhow, I made it there without incident, and we were able to walk around the town a bit. It’s pretty much exactly what you want out of a coastal New England village, and I spent more on souvenirs here than I normally do (I got the sweetest Kennebunkport hoodless sweatshirt, that basically could’ve came out of my father’s closet circa 1983). The Clam Shack is smack in middle of town, and is indeed, a shack, albeit a shack with a line at 11:00AM on a Tuesday morning. While the Clam Shack showcases their badassery through their choice of rolls, the real mind blower for me was that I didn’t need to choose between mayo and butter.
Mayo vs. butter is a hotly debated topic in the world of lobster rolls. Don’t believe me? There’s plenty of articles on the subject. I’m typically a mayo guy myself. No lettuce. But like, a tad more than a swipe of mayo. I want to taste it. I don’t want it to be “lobster salad” though. I’ve always been curious about the butter, but like, let’s face it, most real New Englanders scoff at that, and I crave acceptance. The Clam Shack offered me a way to try the buttered roll finally though, without giving up my mayo or pride.
I doubled down on the condiments and ordered my lobster roll with butter AND mayo. And it was excellent. Not too much of each. Just enough of both, and washed down with a fresh squeezed lemonade from a stand on the Clam Shack’s deck, that was surprisingly not overpriced. It was an entirely new experience, and it was glorious. I didn’t get two, simply because planning anything at the tail end of an action-packed vacation is a terrible idea. I was exhausted and wanted to be home in the worst way.
But, I have a feeling I’ll be going back to Kennebunkport sooner than later, because they have a Lobster Roll Trail!